The one-time $100 vaccine payment will be offered to all associates who receive the full manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine (the company did not specify which vaccine it was recommending) and present appropriate proof of vaccination to their human resources representative.
Associates who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons will have the option of completing an educational health and safety course to receive the payment, noted Kroger.
"We know that the most effective defense against this pandemic comes in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine and the continuation of the rigorous safety precautions we've established across our stores, manufacturing facilities, and supply chain," said Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger's chief medical officer.
Through its healthcare division, Kroger Health, the company has been one of the major distributors of the vaccine and as of Friday, Feb. 5, has administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines to essential health care workers, skilled-nursing facility employees and residents, and some elderly populations.
"We are strongly encouraging all customers and associates to receive the vaccine to curb the spread of COVID-19, and we'll do all we can to ensure they have access as soon as it's available."
In addition to the new vaccine payment, the company said it also is investing an additional $50m to "reward and thank associates" across its 35-state footprint by also providing a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates beginning this week.
"As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, we're increasing our investment to not only recognize our associates' contributions, but also encourage them to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available to them to optimize their well-being as well as the community's," said Tim Massa, Kroger's chief people officer.